Are you in a slump? Do you feel that you might have stalled professionally and you’re not sure about how to jumpstart your career or business? How about investing in yourself and sharpening your skills?
The story is told of a strong woodcutter who got a job with a merchant. Being an expert at woodcutting it was a joy when he realised the pay was good and so were his new working conditions. What a perfect combination!
Elated about this ideal job, he set out to work, reaching the incredible accomplishment of felling 18 trees on his first day. His boss was proud and prodded him on with some encouraging words.
On his second day, despite his best efforts, he could only bring down 15 trees. The third day, he figured if he tried harder, he would secure better results. But, again, the numbers were lower, and he only managed to cut 10 trees.
Despondent, the woodcutter thought “I must be losing my strength.” Feeling embarrassed, he went to his boss and apologised, saying he was baffled as to what was happening.
His boss replied, “When was the last time you sharpened your axe?”
“Sharpened? The puzzled woodcutter asked, “I didn’t have time to sharpen my axe, I’ve been busy cutting trees!”
If you’re like the woodcutter, you might be over-exerting yourself but you’re not seeing the results. Personal growth is inextricably linked to career and business development. To jumpstart either of the two, how about you invest in yourself and sharpen your proverbial axe to grow into the best version of yourself? Here are 12 tips to get you started:
- Create a professional development plan. Keep in mind that ‘A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.’ If you’re intent on growing, you have to create your ultimate life plan, work on what you need to get there, and know the steps you need to take along the way.
- Listen to podcasts and motivational content. Download a podcast app and scout the ones that delve into the areas you’d like to grow. Motivational content gives you that extra push to reach your goals on days when it’s difficult to muster up the courage to keep going.
- Read more books and watch videos that feature your area of expertise. Going back to basics and picking up a good book or an e-book is a great way to soak up some new knowledge while unwinding. Choose a topic based on your career or take a deep dive into a totally new one that can widen your knowledge. Not a fan of reading? Watching videos is a great alternative!
- Attend webinars and industry events. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, a host of free webinars continue to pop up with a tonne of experts who are ready to share their knowledge. Do your research to scout the webinars and (virtual) industry events that can contribute to your personal and professional growth.
- Get certified. Take that course, start that degree! A certification is one of the best ways to show that you’re capable and trainable, and it’s a great way to stand out.
- Find a mentor. If you’ve already settled into your career, the idea of a mentor might seem a bit archaic, however, you’d be happy to know that a mentor can help at any stage in your growth process. To guide your selection, choose someone who has the career and skills you’d like to master and follow their advice.
- Shadow a work colleague. If you’re employed, a great way to develop new skills is to shadow a work colleague to learn new skills.
- Say ‘Yes!’ to new ‘discomfort zones’. There’s no growth in your comfort zone, and no comfort in your growth zone, like diamonds, if you want to become valuable, you need to undergo some pressure to change. Be open to taking on a new challenge and learning a new skill.
- Speak up! Listen with intent to understand, and always ask questions when you don’t understand something.
- Fake it till you make it. Start acting like the successful person you want to be. This should be reflected in the way you speak, dress, and your overall demeanour.
- Tick those wins off your list! Encouragement sweetens labour; celebrate your wins, take time to sit in the feeling of victory, and then hit the road again.
- Network, network, network! There’s much value in the statement, ‘Your net worth is your network”. Be strategic about expanding your network and engaging with like-minded professionals.
These 12 tips are great ways to invest in growing personally and professionally, and jumpstart your career and dream life. By all means, feel free to repeat each step as often as you wish, after all, repetition is how we shift our paradigms and create new habits. Now that you have the tools to sharpen your skills, what are you waiting on to get started?
Kimesha is the CEO of Oasis Integrated Communications, a PR firm with operations in Canada and Jamaica, and a focus on helping businesses to find their paradise. She’s a seasoned PR professional with a passion for crafting meaningful stories that connect with people. An eternal optimist who thrives on perfecting solutions that marry creative brand experience with consumer engagement, she believes in tapping into the core values of a company and tailoring strategies that share their narrative and find affinity. Her experience spans public relations, corporate communications, marketing, social media and advertising across a range of industries. She has executed projects in Toronto, New York, and Jamaica where she has deftly managed some of the foremost brands across North America and the Caribbean.
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